ABC Film Challenge – Catch-up 2020 – L – Luce (2019) Movie Review

Director: Julius Onah

Writer: J.C. Lee, Julius Onah (Screenplay) J.C. Lee (Play)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Tim Roth, Norbert Leo Butz, Andrea Bang

Plot: A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student.


Tagline – The Truth Has Many Faces

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Thought-Provoking

Story: Luce starts as we meet all-star student Luce Edgar (Harrison Jr) on the verge of a bright future, his adopted parents Amy (Watts) and Peter (Roth) are proud of him and how much he has achieved since they adopted him from war-torn Eritrea.

After an incident at school, one of the teachers Harriet Wilson (Spencer) discovers fireworks in Luce’s locker, which leads to a loss of trust between the family, teacher and questions circling around Luce’s past.

Thoughts on Luce

Characters – Luce is the model student, top of the class, sports star, the popular student with a bright future, he is refugee from Eritrea who was given a home in America, where he builds this future, he is close with his teammates, which sees them sharing lookers. He starts to clash with one of his teachers, which sees him clashing with his parents, while always staying one step ahead of the adults with stories that cover up any truths. Harriet Wilson is the teacher that clashes with Luce, she believes he has a secret that could expose his true motivations in life, while she is balancing the personal problems at home, she gets to a level which seems desperate. Amy is Luce’s adopted mother, she has always looked to create the best life for him, believing he will have a future he never imagined from his previous life. Peter is the father that always wanted to be a father, he has been happy with how Luce turned out, but deep down, he has always wondered about the connection he would have had with a child of his own.

PerformancesKelvin Harrison Jr is outstanding in the leading role, showing the pure confidence his character has in his action, while using this to hold himself together. Octavia Spencer is great too, showing how committed to making a change a teacher can be. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth shine in the parental roles, always wanting to make sure they are around for their new son.

StoryThe story here follows a star student that sudden starts getting targeted by one of his teachers, he is trying to stay ahead of the accusation, while preparing for his graduation speech, leaving us wondering why he is being targeted. This story is one that is covered in tension, we know something has happened for the events of the film to be unfolding the way they are, we are left to wonder just what caused these changes, made everyone react the way they are. We get the important messages being put forward too. The story will see us believing we know what is happening, only for everything to get turned on its head.

MysteryThe film creates a mystery, which is truly brilliant to watch unfold, we won’t get the answers easily and are constantly kept guessing.

SettingsThe film uses the everyday locations that a student and teacher would have, where they will see how their lives can crossover and create something bigger in life.


Scene of the Movie – Get out of my house.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain scenes don’t need to be here.

Final Thoughts This is a clever smart mystery that will spend the whole time keeping us guessing as to what will happen next, leaving us shocked with the truth.

Overall: Clever Mystery.

Fugue (2018) Movie Review

Director: Tomas Street

Writer: Tomas Street (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack Foley, Laura Tremblay, Mike Donis, Kristen Da Silva, Michael Lipka

Plot: Amnesic Malcolm struggles to put the pieces of his life back together and begins questioning those closest to him in this puzzle of memory and identity.


Tagline – Who do you think you are?

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Fugue starts when Malcolm (Foley) wakes up without the memories of his life, his wife Helen (Tremblay) helping fill him in with the blanks of their life together, the small stories about them, until that night they get attacked, with Malcolm waking up not remembering anything.

Malcolm starts a new story, leading us to discover that people are trying to get a safe open in his life, with a code he can’t remember.

Thoughts on Fugue

Final Thoughts Fugue is a film that follows one man who is suffering from amnesia and finds himself being forced into giving up a code for a safe, he doesn’t remember each day, which will show from how the story is willing to shuffle to the timeline on everything we see. We do keep going through the different ideas of what might be happening with twists around each scene. The performances through the film are strong with Jack Foley in the leading role, showing us the strength of his character and the uncertainty required. The mystery we are looking to solve does keep us guessing, but we don’t seem to learn enough by the conclusion of the film, leaving a lot of empty loose ends to everything we have been watching.



Repression (2020) Movie Review

Director: Elbert van Strien

Writer: Ben Hopkins, Elbert van Strien (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Mullan, Thekla Reuten, Rebecca Front, Bill Paterson, Sam Hazeldine, Emun Elliott

Plot: Repression tells the story of a therapist, who loses her grip on reality when a ten-year-old boy claims he can control her future

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Repression starts as a therapist Marianne Winter (Reuten) looks to relocate from New York to a small Scottish town away from her past, taking over the patients of Dr McVittie (Mullan), dealing with children who are in need of therapy.

One of her first patients Manny (Wolf) claims he has abilities and that is why other kids won’t talk to him, while Marianne looks to start her own new life, learning about a new town, new country with new friendships, only Manny might have already got to her as she starts to lose grip of reality.

Thoughts on Repression

Characters – Marianne Winter is looking to start a new life after the death of her husband in New York, she is bringing her therapist skills to a small Scottish town to help children. She is still haunted by the past event, but wants to help the children. She looks to start a new life with new friendships, but soon finds herself needing to investigate one of her patients who might have a more sinister side to him and his problems. Dr McVittie is the man Marianne has replaced, he was respected until the events have left him a broken man with plenty of mystery around him. Manny is the 10-year-old that does seem to have control of events in the world, he sees death before it happens, with his nature being sinister about whether he can make the events happen too. We get to see the fellow professionals that welcome and try to guide Marianne away from certain parts of Manny’s past, a new love interest in Kieran, as well as the flashbacks with Josh, Marianne’s husband that haunts her dreams.

PerformancesThekla Reuten in the leading role is strong through the film, showing us the pain her character has been through, as well hope of something more in the future. When we look at the supporting cast, we get a strong set of performances from the newly disgraced therapist Peter Mullan, the creepy kid Elijah Wolf, the supportive partners and authority figures.

StoryThe story here follows a widowed therapist that is looking to start a new life in a new country that soon starts to see herself losing sense of reality after spending time with one of her new patients. This story does put forward plenty of questions, ones that will lead to different direction the story will go in, while it might start off in a routine way, one which you would see a new life start, we do end up going in a very different direction, one you wouldn’t even imagine it going in, one that will leave you surprised, however this does seem to take away from much of the previous stages of the film, taking the importance of earlier plot points.

MysteryThe mystery in the film comes thick and fast, with it all being about Manny and just what is the reality about him truly is.

SettingsThe film uses the Scottish town setting to show us just how a new life for Marianne is happening, it is murky compared to her old life, reflecting the pain she has been suffering.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – While learning the truth is brilliant, it does make certain parts unrequired in the story.

Final Thoughts This is a very interesting movie, it is one that is filled with deeper questions, with plenty of different directions happening, containing strong performances throughout.

Signature Entertainment presents Repression on Digital HD 28th September

Hold the Dark (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Writer: Macon Blair (Screenplay) William Giraldi (Novel)

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, James Badge Dale

Plot: After the deaths of three children suspected to be killed by wolves, writer Russell Core is hired by the mother of a missing six-year-old boy to track down and locate her son in the Alaskan wilderness.

Runtime: 2 Hour 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Messy and Confusing

Story: Hold the Dark starts when a young boy becomes the latest victim of the wolves surrounding an Alaskan town, his mother Medora (Keough) writes to a hunter an author Russell Core (Wright) in hope that he will come and destroy the wolf that took her child.

When Russell heads out into the darkness that covers Alaska, he sees the wolfpack and believes he sees another child taken by the wolves, leaving him to deal with the police who were waiting for any suspect to fall into their laps and after Vernon (Skarsgard) returns from Iraq, he looks to get revenge on the wolves that took his son, only there is a biggest conspiracy being covered up here.

Thoughts on Hold the Dark

Characters – Russell Core is an author and wolf expert that gets called to help hunt down the wolf which has been killing the children of the local area, only to discover a much bigger problem going on in the town. Vernon is the solider that has returned from war to find his son dead, he wants to work getting revenge on the responsible one. Medora is the woman that calls in for the help, while we also meet cops that are looking to get to the bottom of the killings.

PerformancesThis is a film where you don’t want to say anything bad about the performances, because it is more of how the movie is made that makes anything bad, Jeffrey Wright does make his character feel distant, while Alexander Skarsgard does show the grief, otherwise nobody gets to do anything more.

StoryThe story here follows an author that is called to look into a string of deaths involving children and wolves and soon finds himself in the middle of something much deadlier. Well I think this was the story, it isn’t shot very well to show the story unfolding, it seems like there is a lot more going on, but it didn’t give us enough information, looking to create a more shock filled moment with plenty of blood over creating an idea to what is going on.

Horror/MysteryThe horror does come from seeing how people are reacting to losing their children, which shows the panic, only for the mystery to try and take over, without giving us enough to work on as an audience member.

SettingsAlaska should be a wonderful setting, it does show the darkness that would be felt there at certain times of the year, but doesn’t take us into the environment enough.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the injuries the people suffer, with the shootout being the one scene with the most going on within it.


Scene of the Movie – Shootout.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Hard to follow.

Final Thoughts This is a disappointing outing from a director that has usually done wonderful things, it is slow, confusing and messy to keep up with.

Overall: Disappointing throughout.

Every Secret Thing (2014) Movie Review

Director: Amy Berg

Writer: Nicole Holofcener (Screenplay) Laura Lippman (Novel)

Starring: Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Nate Parker, Common

Plot: A detective looks to unravel a mystery surrounding missing children and the prime suspects: two young women who, seven years ago, were put away for an infant’s death.


Tagline – Don’t look away for even a second.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Excellent Mystery Thriller

Story: Every Secret Thing starts when Alice and Ronnie a young girls kill a baby, now they are 18-years-old Alice (Macdonald) is living back with her teacher mother Helen (Lane) who is trying to help get her back into society, while Ronnie (Fanning) gets back into work. When another toddler goes missing Nancy Porter (Banks) and Kevin Jones (Parker) a leading the investigation.

As the disappearance starts becoming lengthy, the detectives turn to Alice and Ronnie for answers, believing they might have an answer, which leads to a look into the past event which left the girls in juvenile hall, will the past unlock the truth and save the missing child?

Thoughts on Every Secret Thing

Characters – Alice is one of two girls that was sent away for a baby’s death, she has always been an outside and social awkward child, now 18, she wants to be part of the world, only she finds herself being lonely, distant from her mother and still in belief that she wasn’t involved with original death. Ronnie is the other girl that was sent away, she does seem like somebody that would get in trouble more and takes the baby, she has put her life back in order, while still coming off shady and broken. Helen is Alice’s mother, she is a teacher that has always wanted to help young people develop, but she struggles to get through to her own daughter. Nancy Porter is leading the investigation, she was the detective that discovered the baby and now she wants to learn more about the truth, trying to uncover the years of damage both the girls have and is in a race against time to not find another dead child.

PerformancesDanielle Macdonald gives a star making performance in this leading role, we see such a range in her performance it will leave you mesmerised by her performance. Dakota Fanning is great too, we see how conflicted her character is with the events of the film, while Diane Lane, brings the distant mother to life with ease. Elizabeth Banks is wonderful too, giving us a performance that showed how determined she is get the case closed.

StoryThe story here follows two detectives that must find a missing child, with the two teenage girls who recently got released from juvenile hall becoming the prime suspects as they were locked up for killing a baby. This story shows us plenty, while keeping the truth from us for so long, the story does give us plenty of hints to the truth and by re-watching you will pick up on all of them. We do get to see how mistakes of the past can do two things, break people with guilt or make them embrace their problems becoming a threat to the world. We are left guessing to what the truth will be which is extremely great to see in any crime mystery and everything is played into stories from the past and how people remember them.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of this film is the investigation to the missing child, we see how the clues are uncovered which only dives further into the mystery of the story.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town, which was rocked by the first crime and one that will come together to try and solve the new crime.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We get a strange first introduction to detective Jones, only for it to mean nothing.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that will keep you guessing, it has plenty of clues in the story that will give you the truth to everything that is happening in the film.

Overall: Must watch crime mystery.